Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/24/2013

An emergency alert was issued by the Department of Homeland Security this evening when an unidentified aircraft was spotted on radar approaching the roof of the White House. A large man in a red suit was subsequently detected by surveillance cameras lowering sixteen tons of number nine coal down the chimney into the First Family’s private living quarters.

In other news, angry demonstrators in the Egyptian city of Mansoura went on the rampage and attacked Muslim Brotherhood property in the city. They blamed the Ikhwan for an earlier bombing at the security directorate that left fifteen people dead.

To see the headlines and the articles, click “Continue reading” below.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Caroline Glick, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, RR, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

Notice to tipsters: Please don’t submit extensive excerpts from articles that have been posted behind a subscription firewall, or are otherwise under copyright protection.

Caveat: Articles in the news feed are posted “as is”. Gates of Vienna cannot vouch for the authenticity or accuracy of the contents of any individual item posted here. We check each entry to make sure it is relatively interesting, not patently offensive, and at least superficially plausible. The link to the original is included with each item’s title. Further research and verification are left to the reader.

Financial Crisis
» Greece: Winter Homes Rates Slump by Over 50%
» White House Pushes for IMF Funds
» Big Food Companies Push to Label Genetically Modified Products as “Natural”
» Bloomberg: Trans Pacific Partnership is “Corporatist Power Grab”
» Christians in America Study History and Fight Back Against the Censorship While We Still Can
» De Blasio’s Daughter Admits to Substance Abuse
» NSA Lawsuit Attorney: Ignore White House Panel
» Push of a Button: This is How Fast They Can Lock Down the Entire Banking System
» Ractopamine: The Meat Additive Banned Almost Everywhere But America
» Reddit Joins LA Times in Banning Skeptics From Climate “Debate”
» San Francisco Bans Wood Burning on Christmas Eve
» Smart Grid Technology, Now Spreading Across U.S., Will Raise Energy Prices to Reduce Demand
» The Supreme Court is Undermining Science and Society
» White House Again Stretches Health Care Sign-Up Deadline
Europe and the EU
» UK: Council Forces Church to Silence Its Bells at Night Because They Are ‘Prejudicial to Health’
» Serbia: Fiat Automobili Srbija (FAS) to Increase Production
North Africa
» Egyptian Tycoon Sawiris Wants Italians to Invest Again
» Mansoura Residents Attack Brotherhood Property Following Bomb Attack
Israel and the Palestinians
» Caroline Glick: Kerry’s Oh-So-’90s Security Nonsense
Middle East
» Child Born Every Hour in Syrian Refugee Camps
» Conservative Lawmakers’ Secret Mideast Trip Could Foreshadow Obama Downfall
» Exclusive: Iran Official Got Job in Khamenei Conglomerate After Approving Deal
» In Iran, Muslim Youth Are ‘Even More Excited About Christmas Than Christians’
» PM’s Adviser Accuses Gülen Movement of Plotting Against Turkish Army, Nation
» Saudi Women Learn to Drive on Quad Bikes
» Turkey: THY Stops Distribution of Daily Zaman on Its Planes
South Asia
» Afghan Woman’s Nose and Lips ‘Cut Off by Her Heroin Addict Husband Because She Refused to Sell Jewellery to Fund His Habit’
» Indonesia: Banda Aceh: Islamic Extremists Prohibit New Year Celebrations
» Sex, Drugs and Beards: An Afternoon in a Pakistani Porn Cinema
Far East
» Chinese Newborn Dies 70 Min After Vaccine Injections
» Thyroid Cancers Surge Among Fukushima Youths
Sub-Saharan Africa
» 75 Bodies Found in Mass Grave in South Sudan as UN is Swamped With Refugees
» U.N. Security Council Authorizes Increased Peacekeeping Force for South Sudan
» Italy: Almost All Lampedusa Migrants Airlifted Out, Says MP
» Romanians Make up a Fifth of Total of Foreigners in Italy
Culture Wars
» “Gay Thought Police” Funded by the Media
» 15 Quotes About the Duck Dynasty Controversy That Every American Should See
» Army: Don’t Say Christmas
» Backlash Forces Twitter to Lift ‘IStandWithPhil’ Censorship
» Christians in Britain Feel Pressure to be ‘Silent About Their Faith’, Warns Former Archbishop of Canterbury
» Duck Dynasty and the New Fascism in America
» House Resolution Denounces War on Christmas

Greece: Winter Homes Rates Slump by Over 50%

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 23 — The average prices of Greece’s winter resort homes at popular destinations have slumped by up to 52% since the start of the financial crisis, according to a survey conducted by Geoaxis, a certified surveying company, as reported by Kathimerini. Nearly 10,000 such homes in the countryside have remained unsold as the crisis has affected this market more than that of main residences. Notarial associations have recorded an average annual decline in house transactions of 28.2% from 2007 up to end-2012.

Properties in popular winter destinations such as Arachova, Aghios Athanasios, Karpenisi and Trikala in Corinth have dropped by an average rate of 44% since their peak in 2008

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

White House Pushes for IMF Funds

The White House is making a year-end push to increase the U.S. quota for the International Monetary Fund as part of an omnibus spending bill being negotiated now by the House and Senate appropriations committees.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Big Food Companies Push to Label Genetically Modified Products as “Natural”

Food manufacturers who use genetically modified (GMO) ingredients want permission from the federal government to stamp their products with the word “natural.”

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve their plan, which would mean any food containing GMO corn, sugar and other such ingredients could be sold as “natural.”

One advocacy organization, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), blasted the food companies’ proposal.

Scott Faber, vice president of the EWG, called the association’s request “audacious.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Bloomberg: Trans Pacific Partnership is “Corporatist Power Grab”

“As Democratic And Transparent As A One-Party State,” Shrouded In “Big Brother-Like Secrecy”

The U.S. Trade Representative — the federal agency responsible for negotiating trade treaties — has said that the details of the Trans Pacific Partnership are classified due to “national security”.

A Congressman who has seen the text of the treaty says:

There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret … this agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests.

It will increase the cost of borrowing, make prescription drugs more expensive, destroy privacy, harm food safety, and — yes — literally act to destroy the sovereignty of the U.S. and the other nations which sign the bill.

To give an idea of what would happen to American law if TPP passes, just look at Equador …

It’s courts awarded billions against Chevron for trashing huge swaths of rainforest. But then a private arbitration panel simply ignored the country’s court system.

If TPP passes, American courts will be sidelined as well. (Conservatives might want to read this and this.)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Christians in America Study History and Fight Back Against the Censorship While We Still Can

The American people must not disregard the lessons learned in history and understand that it is vital to understand history so you are not destined to repeat the mistakes of the past once again.

During the 1930s and before the official state was unified my entire family lived in Germany and several members served in both World War One and the Second World War. There are two juristically different accounts of the Nazi Party from both sides of my family but one fact was unamuously agreed upon from all accounts of the years leading up to the rise of the Nazi party was one single fact which cannot be denied the Treaty of Versailles was designed to fail and it triggered the need for a scapegoat for the War without a military clear cut defeat and it set up the feeling of hopelessness and the need for someone to save the people from economic hardships imposed on Germany.

The idea of being stabbed in the back and the belief that Germany was being economically attacked spread after the conclusion of the First World War and the consequences of the treaty of signed in France after the defeat of Germany demanding the nation to pay for the entire World War seems unreasonable and unachievable many feel it was designed to fail and the people looked for the source behind such harsh stipulations and the Jewish German citizens became the reason. The terms of surrender directly caused inflation but it also gave rise to anti-Semitism which spread to the people across Germany first in newspapers and local communication. The future leader of the Nazi party Adolf Hitler and his party did not hide the fact that if they would obtain power of the German Government they had a clear agenda to end the “Jewish Problem” written in 1927 and read by Millions before and during the reign of the Third Reich neither Hitler nor other prominent members concealed their ideological beliefs regarding the Jewish Germans and Hitler repeated this on nearly every page therefore people could not simply say they had not been aware.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

De Blasio’s Daughter Admits to Substance Abuse

Chiara de Blasio, the 19-year-old daughter of New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, on Tuesday acknowledged a history of drug and alcohol problems, and said she had been battling depression for most of her adolescence.

In a video released by her father’s campaign team, Ms. de Blasio said she had sought treatment for her troubles, which worsened when she left home for college last year.

“It made it easier, the more I drank and did drugs, to share some common ground with people that I wouldn’t have,” Ms. de Blasio said, her voice accompanied by soft piano music. “It didn’t start out as like a huge thing for me, but then it became a really huge thing for me.”

[Return to headlines]

NSA Lawsuit Attorney: Ignore White House Panel

Larry Klayman says he’s horrified by suggestion that ‘fat and happy’ firms take over from ‘in our underwear’ NSA

(U.S. NEWS) — Larry Klayman, the former Reagan administration prosecutor who won a preliminary injunction Dec. 16 against the government’s collection of all American phone records, says the White House’s surveillance review panel should be ignored.

The five-member panel released a 303-page report Dec. 18 containing 46 recommended changes to intelligence practices.

“It’s a ruse,” Klayman tells U.S. News. “This is an age-old government practice: When caught with their hand in the cookie jar, they come up with a ‘solution.’“ The practice is somewhat similar to advocating a law outlawing murder after killing someone, he says.

Klayman expects Department of Justice attorneys to file an appeal within a few days challenging the legal victory he received from U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon against the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Push of a Button: This is How Fast They Can Lock Down the Entire Banking System

It was done with the push of a button and impacted some two million holiday shoppers:

JPMorgan Chase has notified card holders impacted by the Target breach that their cards will be restricted to $100 ATM cash withdrawals and $300 card purchases until replacement cards can be issued. The new limits impact nearly 2 million debit card accounts, but not credit card holders.

Chase bank made no announcement to their customers of the coming restrictions just days before Christmas. They simply obtained a list of the potentially compromised cards, uploaded them into their system, and with the flick of a finger shut down electronic access to customers’ funds. Whether Chase’s actions were a bad business move is not necessarily at issue, though it was probably quite inconvenient for those affected.

What is at issue is what many in alternative media have been warning about for some time — that the entire financial system of the United States can be shut down within a matter of minutes should the right set of events be realized.

Most Americans don’t believe it can happen. Likewise, most people didn’t think that American domestic security agencies could shut down our borders and put transportation across the country on lock-down within a few hours — until it happened on September 11, 2001.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Ractopamine: The Meat Additive Banned Almost Everywhere But America

Ractopamine is a beta agonist drug that increases protein synthesis, thereby making the animal more muscular. This reduces the fat content of the meat and increases the profit per animal. The drug, which is also used in asthma medication, was initially recruited for use in livestock when researchers discovered that it made mice more muscular.

Interestingly enough, stubborn weight gain is also common complaint among asthma patients using Advair (a beta-agonist drug) — so much so that the manufacturer has added weight gain to the post-marketing side effects. Other adverse reactions to beta-agonist drugs include increased heart rate, insomnia, headaches, and tremors.

Beta-agonist drugs, as a class, have been used in US cattle production since 2003. The drug is administered in the days leading up to slaughter, and as much as 20 percent of it can remain in the meat you buy.

This is disconcerting when you consider that the drug label warns: “Not for use in humans,” and “individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Reddit Joins LA Times in Banning Skeptics From Climate “Debate”

Reddit, the giant aggregator of social, political, and entertainment news, which boasts that it is “the front page of the Internet,” is taking flak for announcing that it now bans all climate “deniers” from its science forum.

In a December 16 posting on the left-liberal Grist website (a George Soros-funded website), Reddit science “moderator” (now self-professed censor) Nathan Allen announced that the Reddit science forum would no longer allow postings from those who challenge the increasingly discredited notion that manmade carbon-dioxide is causing a global warming existential threat to the planet.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

San Francisco Bans Wood Burning on Christmas Eve

Put away the chestnuts; the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has announced that wood burning will be banned in the region on Christmas Eve — and possibly on Christmas Day, too.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Smart Grid Technology, Now Spreading Across U.S., Will Raise Energy Prices to Reduce Demand

The Obama administration is spending billions of dollars to modernize the nation’s power grid, with the goal of changing the way Americans use energy. Your electric bill will go way up, unless you allow the utility to control your energy load at times of peak demand.

“Smart grid” technology involves a wireless, two-way flow of information between individual homes and the power plant. This allows the utility to charge more for electricity, depending on when it is used; and it enables the utility to manage energy for the consumer, to reduce the impact on the grid.

For example, customers eventually will be able to program their “smart” appliances and thermostats so the utility company can turn them off at times of peak electricity usage.

[Comment: Customers gets all the costs without control of appliances and thermostats.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Supreme Court is Undermining Science and Society

EPA should be eliminated as the threat to the nation it has become

The Supreme Court has taken up another case based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s campaign of lies that carbon dioxide is the cause of “climate change” and claims about the quality of air in the United States. The Court is composed of lawyers, not scientists.

At this point in the present era, the Court has made rulings that run contrary to the original, clear intent of the U.S. Constitution and has wrought havoc on our society.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

White House Again Stretches Health Care Sign-Up Deadline

The Obama administration said Tuesday that it would provide more time for people to sign up for health insurance if they could show that they missed the Tuesday deadline for applications because of problems with the federal health care website.

In effect, the administration was stretching the deadline once again, after a last-minute surge of interest among people seeking coverage. The administration hailed what it described as “amazing interest” in new health insurance options and said the federal website alone received “two million site visits” on Monday.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Council Forces Church to Silence Its Bells at Night Because They Are ‘Prejudicial to Health’

A church has been banned from tolling its bells at night because the noise is ‘prejudicial to health’.

The bells at St Mary’s Church in Ashwell, Hertfordshire, have been chiming every 15 minutes for 117 years.

But after receiving 12 complaints, North Herts District Council (NHDC) was ‘legally obliged’ to investigate the noise.

Following an inspection, the committee has ruled that the chimes are potentially harmful and have to be silenced between 11pm and 6am.

The decision has sparked outrage as campaign group Save The Bells claims the church has been ‘pressurised’ by the council.

[Comment: mailman, London, “ Isnt it strange how all these councils can react so quickly to so FEW complaints to silence church bells BUT when it comes to the very destructive noise created by windmills and how those REALLY DO destroy lives all we hear from councils is crickets!!! ]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Serbia: Fiat Automobili Srbija (FAS) to Increase Production

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, 23 DECEMBER — The Fiat Automobili Srbija (FAS) is prepared to increase production in 2014 if European demand increases, if the expected European demand growth occurs, said CEO Antonio Cesare Ferrara. He said that in 2013 FAS was very good, and that in 10 months of 2013 FAS exported Fiat 500L cars worth 1.28 bln EUR, elevated FAS to the top-ranking local exporter.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egyptian Tycoon Sawiris Wants Italians to Invest Again

‘Country needs help and commitment to prosper’

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO — The Egyptian mobile telecommunications tycoon Naguib Sawiris urged Italians to start investing in Egypt again in an exclusive interview with ANSA.

The interview with the former Wind shareholder took place in his office on the 26th floor of one of the Nile Towers, a group of skyscrapers owned by his family’s company, Orascom, overlooking the Nile. “I love Italy and Italians,” he said,”this is why I am urging Italian investors to come to Egypt, in whose future Italy should have a leading role.” From the vantage point of his office, “you can see all of Cairo and — look down there — you can see the Giza Pyramids, even though there is fog today,” the 59-year-old Coptic businessman said proudly. Sawiris is also the owner of a television network and the founder of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, but he does not harbor any political ambitions, since “I am more than willing to give a hand and take part in the work of a ‘group of experts’, but I love my private life too much”, he said. “Italy is the country that is closest to Egypt,” he continued, “not only from a geographical standpoint but also that of the mentality and spirit of the country. The Vatican is there, too.” For these reasons, Sawiris believes Italian businessmen should help Egypt out, as the country “will prosper very quickly” if it gets the help of those he refers to as “achievers”. The tycoon — who responded politely to telephone requests for attention from his daughter during the interview — believes that his country will be able to get its economy back on its feet soon, with the help of a government of ‘achiever’ Egyptians throughout the world, who he lists off by writing down a number of names on a sheet of paper, including Nobel Prize for Chemistry winner Ahmed Zewail and the managing director of the Pimco investment multinational, Mohamed El Erian.

To a question about human rights violations as reported by governments and humanitarian bodies in relation to the hundreds killed by police and soldiers on August 14 in the clearing of two Cairo squares occupied by Muslim Brotherhood supporters after the ousting of the elected president, Mohamed Morsi, Sawiris said without hesitation that “it could not have been avoided. The government had been giving warnings for weeks and the city could not just continue to be blocked. The world does not know that 120 policemen were killed in those squares. The protestors were armed and many of them oppressed residents, going into their homes and abusing them if they did not help them. It was certainly not a bright moment, but there was no other solution.” “Our biggest problem today is undoubtedly the economy,” he said, especially due to the disastrous balance sheet of the year Mohamed Morsi’s regime spent in power, which received financial support from Qatar. Sawiris, considered the second richest billionaire in Egypt (Forbes estimates he has assets of 2.7 billion dollars and ranks him 11th of the 50 wealthiest Africans), has pledged to invest one billion dollars in the first quarter of 2014, “but more may soon follow”. He has also pledged his undivided support for the commander of the Army, General El Sissi, in the next presidential elections. “I don’t like soldiers, but at the moment the country needs someone to hold on tightly to the reins of the country.” While the interview kicked off with references to Lina Wertmuller’s films with Giancarlo Giannini (“I have always liked him”), it ended with another reference to Italy: the Italia Online web network, which was acquired by Sawiris through his Weather company and formed with the Virgilio and Libero portals alongside the latest acquisition from RCS, three months ago, of Dada.

“You can see that Italy is in my heart,” he added in taking his leave.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mansoura Residents Attack Brotherhood Property Following Bomb Attack

Building owned by Brotherhood member trashed, car set alight as Mansoura residents take revenge on Islamist group many blame for Tuesday’s bomb attack that killed 15

Residents of Mansoura have attacked property belonging to a member of the Muslim Brotherhood after a bomb attack in the city was blamed on the group.

Fifteen people died and 134 were injured on Tuesday morning when a large bomb ripped through the Nile Delta city’s security directorate. The city council building, a state-owned theatre, a bank and a number of police vehicles were also damaged in the attack.

Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim claimed the attack was in retaliation for the violent dispersal of two pro-Mohamed Morsi protest camps in Cairo that left over 600 people dead in August.

The Brotherhood has denied involvement in the attack.

A building belonging to Abdel-Rahman El-Bar, a leading Brotherhood member, was ransacked by a group of angry locals, state news agency MENA reported.

They removed furniture and threw it in a nearby stream.

Hundreds marched at the funeral of 12 policeman and one civilian killed in the attack, AP reported.

Following the funeral, local people torched the car of a man who made a four-fingered hand gesture indicating support for the pro-Morsi protesters killed in August.

Crowds gathered outside the security directorate holding posters reading “No to terrorist groups” and pictures of army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi. They chanted “The people want to execute the Brotherhood.”

[Return to headlines]

Caroline Glick: Kerry’s Oh-So-’90s Security Nonsense

Like his supporters, US Secretary of State John Kerry has apparently been asleep for the past 20 years.

Kerry has proffered us security arrangements, which he claims will protect Israel from aggression for the long haul. They will do this, he argues, despite the fact that his plan denies the Jewish state physically defensible borders in the framework of a peace deal with the PLO.

There are several serious problems with Kerry’s arrangements. But in the context of Kerry’s repeated claims that his commitment to Israel’s security is unqualified, their most glaring flaws are rooted in their disregard for all the lessons we have learned over the past two decades.

Kerry’s security arrangements rest on three assumptions. First, they assume that the main threats Israel will face in an era of “peace” with the Palestinians will emanate from east of the Jordan River. The main two scenarios that have been raised are the threat of terrorists and advanced weaponry being smuggled across the border; and a land invasion or other type of major aggression against Israel, perpetrated by Iraqis moving across Jordan.

It is to fend off these threats, Kerry argues, that he would agree to a temporary deployment of Israeli forces in the Jordan Valley even after Israel expels all or most of the 650,000 Israeli civilians who live in Judea, Samaria and eastern, northern and southern Jerusalem.

We will consider the strategic wisdom of his plans for defending Israel from threats east of the Jordan River presently. But first we need to ask whether a threat from across the border would really be the only significant threat that Israel would face after surrendering Judea, Samaria and much of Jerusalem to the PLO.

The answer to this question is obvious to every Israeli who has been awake for the past 20 years, since Israel started down the “land for peace” road with the PLO…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick [Return to headlines]

Child Born Every Hour in Syrian Refugee Camps

21,000 since conflict started, reports UNICEF

(ANSAmed) — ROME, DECEMBER 24 — Every hour a child is born in a refugee camp housing Syrians that have fled their war-torn country. Some 21,000 babies have been born to mothers seeking refugee in bordering countries — most of whom in Lebanon, where living conditions are too expensive for them and the risk of coming down with pneumonia or polio are extremely high.

The figures released by UNICEF on Tuesday are accompanied by a ‘red alert’: if the international community and host countries do not do more to help and protect the infants and children of the Syrian civil war, a ‘catastrophe’ will ensue. Unlike those of Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq, the Lebanese government does not provide any camps for the ceaseless flow into its territory of Syrian refugees, who have led to a 25% rise in the population of Lebanon. Thus, about 835,000 refugees now live in makeshift tents on the edge of cities and villages.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Conservative Lawmakers’ Secret Mideast Trip Could Foreshadow Obama Downfall

Reports coming from the Middle East which have implicated the President in illegal activities

Apparently, there are at least three American lawmakers who have determined to do their jobs, this being to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. Unlike the craven, egocentric, self-aggrandizing majority of our congressmen and senators, at great personal risk, Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and Steve King (R-IA) conducted an off-the-record trip (“mission” might actually be a better description) to the Middle East this past week.

As reported by the Washington Times, the three utilized commercial flights “into high-profile danger zones like Beirut, Cairo and Tripoli,” meeting with top-level officials in the region.

According to The Washington Post, Bachmann, Gohmert, and King met with embassy officials in Tripoli “to receive updates on the Benghazi attack and on the general situation in Libya.” The attack on the compound in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 has led to a myriad of questions on the part of Congress and the American people, but none of these have been answered satisfactorily by the administration. The ostensible efforts of the State Department to determine what occurred have been perfunctory at best, yet information coming out of Libya, Egypt, and certain independent parties has all but condemned Obama and his State Department, suggesting everything from a cavalier abandonment of the personnel there, to premeditation and complicity in their deaths.

Additionally, the actions of Obama toward arming rebels fighting the Assad regime in Syria (done at first clandestinely, and later openly) has raised other grave concerns. Many of these rebels are al-Qaeda and other Islamist affiliates, thus effectively condemning the President of treason, inasmuch as they are America’s sworn enemies.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Exclusive: Iran Official Got Job in Khamenei Conglomerate After Approving Deal

(Reuters) — In the fall of 2009, two of Iran’s most powerful entities teamed up to participate in the largest deal in the history of the country’s stock exchange.

The partners were the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s elite military unit, and a multi-billion dollar business empire known as Setad that is controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Guards and Setad formed a consortium to bid on a controlling stake in Telecommunication Co of Iran, or TCI, which had a near monopoly on landline telephone services. The partners won the stake for $7.8 billion, Iran’s largest privatization ever.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

In Iran, Muslim Youth Are ‘Even More Excited About Christmas Than Christians’

Christians make up less than 1 percent of Iran’s population. And yet the storefronts in Iran’s cities are full of Christmas decorations. So who is supposed to buy them? According to our Observers, the holiday has become very popular with Iranian youth, regardless of their religion.

In recent years, Iranian youth have not only taken to celebrating Christmas, they’ve also begun observing holidays popular in the Western world like Valentine’s Day and Halloween as well as revived many long-forgotten Iranian holidays, like Mehregan, an autumn harvest festival.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

PM’s Adviser Accuses Gülen Movement of Plotting Against Turkish Army, Nation

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief political adviser, Yalcin Akdogan, has blasted Islamist scholar Fethullah Gülen’s movement, the Cemaat, in a column in which he raved about his leader.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Saudi Women Learn to Drive on Quad Bikes

While feminist campaign heats up

(ANSAmed) While waiting for a fatwa (religious decree) prohibiting Saudi women from driving cars to be abolished, women in the country are taking to quad bikes amid the desert dunes for fun. In the kingdom following the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam, however, they have to get their fathers’ permission first.

Activists involved in the Saudi women’s movement started a campaign against the ban on driving in late October, circulating videos online showing several women behind the wheel but without specifying where they had been filmed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Turkey: THY Stops Distribution of Daily Zaman on Its Planes

For criticizing the government over the corruption scandal

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, DECEMBER 23 — Turkey’s flagship carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) has put an embargo on dailies affiliated with the Fethullah Gulen Movement, which has been in at odds with the government of Prime Minister Rece Tayyip Erdogan over an ongoing corruption investigation, Cihan News Agency reported.

The airline, 74% of which is owned by the state, had already stopped delivering the English-language daily Today’s Zaman in airport terminals and on planes before slashing the distribution of its Turkish sibling, daily Zaman, by two-thirds, Cihan reported. Dogan News Agency quoted the Turkish Airlines Press Office as saying Zaman, Today’s Zaman and another publication with links to the Gulen movement, Bugun, will remain in the free daily selection presented at terminal buildings, but the company will not hand out the newspapers inside the planes as of today.

THY passengers can get free newspapers by showing their tickets after passing through a security check at the international terminal, but the company also distributes a limited selection of newspapers for business class passengers inside the plane.

According to the press office, these dailies will only be removed from this selection. Zaman, Today’s Zaman and Bugun have vocally criticized the government over the corruption scandal, warning authorities to avoid interference in the legal process.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Afghan Woman’s Nose and Lips ‘Cut Off by Her Heroin Addict Husband Because She Refused to Sell Jewellery to Fund His Habit’

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

An Afghan woman has had her nose and lips allegedly cut off by her husband after refusing to sell her jewellery to fund his heroin addiction.

The mother-of-four — known only as Setara — was reportedly beaten and mutilated by her partner at their home in Herat, Afghanistan.

He allegedly hit her on the head with a stone, before using a knife to slice off her nose and lips.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Banda Aceh: Islamic Extremists Prohibit New Year Celebrations

A popular hotel in the province of Aceh has canceled a special evening of dance and concerts because of fundamentalist threats. Governor and police responsible for enforcing Islamic norms, including a ban on drinking alcohol. Concerts and dances “on any other day of the year”, but not a “Christian holiday”.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Due to the massive protest campaign launched by extremist Islamic groups in recent days, the management of Hermes Palace — a multi-starred hotels in Banda Aceh — have canceled plans for New Year’s Eve. The celebrations for the last day of the year were planned some time ago, but the pressure from fundamentalist movements in Aceh, the only province in Indonesia where Shariah , or Islamic law is in vigor, has led to the evening’s cancellation for safety reasons and public order. Moreover, the Ulema Advisory Council of Banda Aceh (MPU) has called on the Muslim community not to “celebrate” Christmas and New Year because “they are not Islamic holidays”.

Octowandi , general manager of the hotel, confirmed the suspension of the dances and the concert scheduled for the evening, despite the event being a showcase for local entertainers, according to organizers, so that they could take advantage of free publicity and gain a wider and international audience.

The decision came after a meeting with Islamic leaders, who have proclaimed themselves the “guardians of Sharia law in Aceh .” The hotel managers were forced to publish a written document confirming the cancellation of all the events planned for the evening, including music and dance. The hotel, however, can organize similar events in any one evening in 2014 , but not New Year’s Eve because it “does not come from the Islamic calendar , but comes from the Christian tradition”.

The fundamentalist movements also promise raids and punishment for those who organize parties or celebrations for the last night of the year. The governor of Aceh and the police chief have been placed in charge of enforcing Islamic norms , such as the ban on alcohol, the explosion of fireworks and other things that are not inherent to the Muslim culture

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world. Increasingly however, it has become the scene of attacks or episodes of intolerance against minorities, whether they are Christians, Ahmadi Muslims or belong to other faiths.

Aceh is the only Indonesian province where Sharia (Islamic law) is enforced, following a peace agreement between the central government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Yet, in many other areas of the country, a more radical and extreme vision of Islam is spreading among ordinary Indonesians.

Certain rules such as the infamous building permit (Izin Mendirikan Bangunan or IMB in Indonesian) have been used to prevent the construction of Christian places of worship or stop construction already underway, as was the case for the Yasmin Church in West Java.

Catholics are a small minority of about seven million, or 3 per cent of the population. In the Archdiocese of Jakarta, the faithful represent 3.6 per cent of the population.

Catholics are nevertheless an active component of society and have contributed to the nation’s development as well as to emergency operations when they arise, as was the case in last January’s devastating flood.

Although the country’s constitution recognises religious freedom, Catholics have been the victims of violence and abuse.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Sex, Drugs and Beards: An Afternoon in a Pakistani Porn Cinema

Peshawar (Pakistan) (AFP) — Three times a day dozens of men pack the auditorium, the air heavy with hashish smoke, to watch graphic sex movies: welcome to the Shama — a pornographic cinema in Pakistan’s Taliban heartland.

Terrified of being recognised, the Shama’s customers hide their faces as they make their way to the cinema between a goat market and a bus station.

There are three X-rated shows a day in the Shama’s discreet back room, while the main hall is reserved for mainstream movies — the only ones advertised outside.

“Class X” customers pay 200 rupees ($1.90) and after a brief search by a Kalashnikov-toting guard, they are whisked through a courtyard and down a concrete passageway.

Inside the auditorium a thick cloud of cannabis smoke hangs over the 20-odd rows of tattered fake-leather seats.

During one showing, the hall was more than half full, populated by labourers, farmers, students and others who had come to escape the day-to-day claustrophobia of life in a deeply conservative Muslim region where family and neighbours keep a close eye on everything.

Most arrive alone and want to remain so, arranging themselves around the seats to avoid sitting next to anyone.

They are all soon gripped by the drama of the day’s offering, “Dostana” (“Friendship”), a semi-amateur production made for the Shama in the more liberal eastern city of Lahore.

The plot hinges on a romantic dilemma: the hero, Shah Sawar (“the Horseman” in the local language) cannot decide whether to marry his sweetheart Gulpana or his cousin Doa, chosen for him as a wife by his family.

He decides to “test” his would-be brides and much of the film’s two hours is taken up with long and extremely graphic sex scenes between the Horseman and his paramours.

A reverential hush reigns over the audience throughout, broken only by a few suspicious noises from certain rows, while at least half sneak out before the end.

The formula has made the Shama one of Peshawar’s most successful cinemas at a time when many others have been forced to close…

           — Hat tip: RR [Return to headlines]

Chinese Newborn Dies 70 Min After Vaccine Injections

The number of cases of infant deaths following hepatitis B vaccines rose to at least six in China after three more deaths were reported in South China’s Guangdong province, according to local authorities.

Since November, four infants have been reported dead after they received injections of hepatitis B vaccine made by Shenzhen-based Biokangtai, according to the Provincial Disease Control and Prevention Center on Monday.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Thyroid Cancers Surge Among Fukushima Youths

It seems US sailors aren’t the only ones who three short years after the Fukushima disaster are being stricken by cancers and other radiation-induced diseases.

For once, the media blackout surrounding the Japanese nuclear power plant tragedy appears to have crumbled, and at least a portion of the truth has been revealed. Hong Kong’s SCMP reports that fifty-nine young people in Fukushima prefecture have been diagnosed with or are suspected of having thyroid cancer. Notably, all of newly diagnosed were younger than 18 at the time of the nuclear meltdown in the area in March 2011. They were identified in tests by the prefectural government, which covered 239,000 people by the end of September.

And while it is not rocket surgery to put two and two together, now that the data is in the public domain, here come the experts to explain it away.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

75 Bodies Found in Mass Grave in South Sudan as UN is Swamped With Refugees

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

The discovery came as South Sudan undertook military operations to wrest back control of the city of Bor from rebels loyal to the country’s former vice president.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

U.N. Security Council Authorizes Increased Peacekeeping Force for South Sudan

The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday voted to nearly double its peacekeeping force in South Sudan, hoping that a rapid influx of international forces would help quell the violence threatening to tear the young nation apart.

With tens of thousands of civilians in the country seeking refuge at United Nations compounds, some of which have come under direct threat or attack by armed forces as well, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the move. It will add about 6,000 international troops and police officers to the more than 7,600 peacekeeping forces already on the ground in the nation.

“We have reports of horrific attacks,” Mr. Ban said after the Security Council vote. “Tens of thousands have fled their homes,” he said, adding that “innocent civilians are being targeted because of their ethnicity.”

[Return to headlines]

Italy: Almost All Lampedusa Migrants Airlifted Out, Says MP

17 shipwreck survivors-State’s witnesses remain

(see related story on migrants’ hunger strike in Rome) (ANSA) — Palermo, December 24 — Italian center-left MP Khalid Chaouki on Tuesday said 169 of 219 refugees held at a controversial migrant holding center on the island of Lampedusa have been flown to Rome and to the Sicilian city of Palermo.

The facility sparked international condemnation from the EU and human rights advocates after a video showing naked migrants being sprayed with disinfectant was broadcast last week.

Another 17 survivors of two fatal shipwrecks, one on October 3 and one on October 11, in which over 300 perished, are still being held on the island pending a green light from the interior ministry, because they are State’s witnesses in human trafficking cases.

The Democratic Party (PD) member of the Italian Lower House on Sunday barricaded himself along with the refugees inside the so-called First Hosting Center (CPA) to protest conditions there.

He was joined on Tuesday by Lampedusa Mayor Giusi Nicolini, an outspoken opponent of Italy’s current anti-immigration laws.

“We’re staying until the interior ministry gives the OK for these 17 refugees to leave,” Chaouki said. Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge voiced her “satisfaction” at the migrants’ transfer out of the facility.

“I am committed to increasing government monitoring and to bringing such facilities up to EU standards. Our new prison decree also aims to streamline migrant identification so that they won’t have to spend time in detention centers in future”, the minister said.

Every year, tens of thousands of migrants make first contact with Europe on the Italian island between Tunisia and Sicily after the hazardous crossing over the Mediterranean from North Africa.

Chaouki on Sunday issued the government an ultimatum, stating that he would not leave until the overcrowded facility lives up to its obligations as a transitory center.

“I am not moving until the center returns to the role it was assigned by international treaties as a temporary facility, where stays cannot exceed 96 hours”, Chaouki said.

His demonstration began the same day news broke of 10 immigrants who sewed their mouths shut with needle and thread to protest their continued confinement in a secondary detention center in a western suburb of Rome.

Eight Italian Red Cross operators and volunteers are set to reach Lampedusa on Tuesday night “as requested by the interior ministry”, Italian Red Cross President Francesco Rocca said.

Their job will be to verify human rights standards at the government facility the island and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants as they disembark.

“We are increasing our presence in favor of migrants on Lampedusa. This year, people are arriving in winter as well and we are ready to do our part to welcome them”, Rocca concluded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Romanians Make up a Fifth of Total of Foreigners in Italy

Number of foreigners living in Italy rising, Istat says

(ANSA) — Rome, December 23 — The number of foreign citizens living in Italy is on the rise, with Romanian nationals making up a fifth of the total, according to data released by national statistics office Istat Monday. The biggest increases in the inflow of foreign nationals into Italy were posted by people originating from Moldavia and the Ukraine, according to the 15th general population census carried out by Istat and published on Monday.

The foreigners living in Italy originate from some 196 countries, though more than half are made up of Romanian, Albania, Moroccan, Chinese and Ukrainian nationals. Romanian citizens total over 820,000.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

“Gay Thought Police” Funded by the Media

The attempt by the homosexual group GLAAD to undermine the show “Duck Dynasty,” as a result of the main character’s stand in favor of traditional values, is focusing attention on the nature of this Hollywood-funded group and the financial support it receives from the major media.

GLAAD claimed credit for the A&E network putting one of the stars of “Duck Dynasty,” Phil Robertson, on suspension following publication by GQ magazine of his remarks critical of the homosexual lifestyle. Robertson said homosexuality was sinful, unnatural, and a violation of Biblical standards.

The A&E Network has actually funded GLAAD in the past, according to a list of the organization’s corporate sponsors.

In addition to A&E, corporate sponsors of GLAAD events have included NBC Universal, Comcast, TimeWarner, The Walt Disney Company (including the ABC television group and ESPN), CNN, CBS, Bloomberg, TBS, HBO, and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

15 Quotes About the Duck Dynasty Controversy That Every American Should See

What is being done to Phil Robertson shows just how far America has fallen. The thought police are waging an all-out campaign to take down one of the biggest names in the United States, and if they are successful none of us will ever be safe again. We are becoming a nation that is governed by bullying, intimidation and unwritten speech codes, and if you happen to say the “wrong thing” you could lose everything.

Liberal pundits are gleefully declaring that making statements such as Robertson made “should get you fired from most jobs”. That means that they believe that unless you conform to their version of morality (or keep your mouth shut forever) you should lose your job. So are you ready to lose your job for what you believe? Because that is where we are heading. In the future, if you do not conform to their politically correct Big Brother speech code, you will be unemployable and you and your entire family will be outcasts from society. That is why the Duck Dynasty controversy is so important. This is a “line in the sand” moment, and if the thought police are successful than those that refuse to abandon Biblical morality will soon be forced underground. Do you really want to live in a country where a large percentage of the population can no longer express what they believe to be right and wrong?…

And of course there is a purpose for this. The truth is that they are trying to make an example out of him in order to chill the free speech of all the rest of us. They want to intimidate all of us into either changing our beliefs or shutting up.

Is this really what America has degenerated into?

Somewhere along the way, our nation has chosen to believe some very serious lies. First of all, disagreement is not the same thing as hate. If I disagree with what someone else is doing, that does not mean that I “fear” or “hate” them…

Below are 15 quotes about the Duck Dynasty controversy that every American should see. Included are quotes from Americans that are both gay and straight, liberal and conservative, non-religious and Christian. All throughout society, Americans are rising up and objecting to the use of bullying, intimidation and unwritten speech codes to force people to conform to a specific agenda…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Army: Don’t Say Christmas

Don’t say Christmas.

That’s the message that was conveyed to a group of soldiers at Camp Shelby by an equal opportunity officer from the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, according to a soldier who attended a recent briefing.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Backlash Forces Twitter to Lift ‘IStandWithPhil’ Censorship

A huge backlash in response to the news that Twitter had blocked links to has forced the social networking giant to lift its censorship of the website. is calling for the reinstatement of Phil Robertson after his controversial comments on homosexuality and features a petition which has been signed by over 200,000 people.

Yesterday it emerged that Twitter was flagging links to by treating them as malware, despite the fact that the #IStandWithPhil hashtag has been trending for days. When users attempted to post the link, they were met with a pop up box which read, “There was an error posting your message.”

Shortly after being flooded with complaints about the block, Twitter fixed the problem and claimed that it was merely a technical error.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Christians in Britain Feel Pressure to be ‘Silent About Their Faith’, Warns Former Archbishop of Canterbury

As Christians around the world prepare to mark the birth of Jesus by celebrating Christmas, a former Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that the religion is being increasingly marginalised in Britain.

George Carey says that Christians are pressured to hide their faith at work, with many religious people cowed into ‘increasing timidity’ by society’s secular leanings.

He also spoke out about the plight of minority Christian populations in the Middle East and elsewhere who are being oppressed by governments and their fellow countrymen…

He suggested that many people overlook the plight of Christians because the religion is considered to be comparatively powerful thanks to its historical dominance in the West.

‘Far from being important and influential, in many parts of the world Christianity is weak and despised, and Christians are attacked and killed,’ Lord Carey wrote.

‘In Nigeria, churches are firebombed; in Pakistan, churchgoers are prosecuted under draconian blasphemy laws, while in Egypt, they are either marginalised or assaulted.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Duck Dynasty and the New Fascism in America

The network A&E issued a statement late Wednesday branding Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson’s recent statements to GQ about sin and homosexuality unacceptable and indicated that his beliefs “in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who [sic] have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.” The network has placed Phil under indefinite hiatus.

Expressing a Biblical viewpoint is now “unacceptable?” In any forum? Really? How far and how fast we have fallen as a society and as a culture. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion (especially the Christian one) is now not tolerated in the eyes of those who have completely capitulated to the charms of the gay agenda and those who seek to complete the mainstreaming of homosexuality into society without debate or criticism.

It is amazing that one can now be hounded, punished, and censored for merely having the audacity of believing in traditional morals and values. And for daring to express them. Political correctness is a tool of tyranny wielded by the radical isms of the Left with increasing ferocity. The persecution of Christians continues to expand and grow every day and those who dare to proclaim a Biblical principle can expect no mercy. The Left has absolutely no tolerance for any beliefs other than their own. All else is branded incendiary bigotry, intolerance, and hatred. It has become fashionable to persecute traditional values, but if you dare offend gays, lesbians, or Muslims for that matter, you’re going to be intimidated, silenced, and labeled as a hater.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

House Resolution Denounces War on Christmas

A bipartisan, non-binding House resolution, introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), would “strongly” disapprove “of attempts to ban references to Christmas.”

The resolution has “36 co-sponsors, including two Democrats, Reps. Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Mike McIntyre (D-NV).”

“The Founding Fathers never intended for references to God and religion to be prohibited in civic dialogue. Despite this, our freedom to fully recognize Christmas is being attacked by a vocal and litigious minority,” Lamborn told ABC. “That is why I have introduced House Resolution 448, a bipartisan effort… calling on Congress to protect the traditional symbols of Christmas for use by the vast majority of Americans who do acknowledge the holiday.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

4 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/24/2013

  1. Say one thing and mean it, if you are Christian:
    Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
    Get over it.

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